TRUST THE FRONT OFFICE
The Warriors opened their title defense with a sequence in their first preseason game that lit up social media. Stephen Curry pushed the ball upcourt, dribbling behind his back as he went. The reigning MVP then flipped a pass to Klay Thompson, who moved the ball on to Draymond Green, who returned the ball to Curry, who had burst open in front of Golden State's bench. Curry quickly launched a three and, before the ball swished through the hoop, turned to Andre Iguodala, who wasn't even in the game, for a celebratory high five.
That eight-second possession displayed the pace, unselfishness, firepower, chemistry and confidence that delivered Golden State's first championship in 40 years. It also showcased GM Bob Myers's prescience. It was Myers who, shortly after his promotion to GM in April 2012, signed Curry to a bargain four-year, $44 million contract extension. Myers plucked Green in the second round of the '12 draft, constructed a sign-and-trade for Iguodala in July '13 and reached an extension with Thompson last fall so his potential departure didn't hang over the Warriors' 67-win season.
Myers took home the 2015 Executive of the Year award, but he didn't pause to take a breath. This summer he locked up Green for five years at $82 million and executed a pair of luxury-tax-saving trades that netted Kings forward Jason Thompson for David Lee. Remarkably, Myers has all his core pieces locked up through '16--17. With the heavy lifting complete, he's earned the right to sit back and enjoy the show.
A rival scout sizes up Golden State
They're the title favorites again. They're a Swiss Army knife on both offense and defense when it comes to their team versatility.... Playing devil's advocate, they never really faced the starting point guard in any playoff series. That's nitpicking, but it was the perfect setup for Stephen Curry. You can't let him save all his juice for offense, because he's so lethal with the ball.... Curry's defense can definitely improve, but he became a better system defender. They switched a lot with all their versatile guys, but they tried really hard not to let Curry get switched onto bigs or wings who could post him up in isolation spots.... I can see Klay Thompson being a No. 1 scoring option on his own team. You have to limit his clean looks, you can't ever sag off of him on the weak side, you can't help off of him.... They don't need to run any plays for Harrison Barnes; he's able to create things with his activity and off-ball movement. Big-time athlete. Some of their versatility came from his ability to defend stretch fours and not give anything up. He has unbelievable strength—strong legs, strong core—to hold his own in the post.... Draymond Green's greatest strength is that he guards multiple positions and he goes all out. He's just suffocating everyone from guards at the line to big guys on the block, and he's moving smoothly between those responsibilities as possessions unfold. He's a great, loud defender: He gets into it, the crowd gets into it, and opponents feel the impact. How many times did they turn his defensive plays into three-pointers on the other end?
COACH STEVE KERR
(2nd season with Warriors)
2014--15 RECORD 65--17
(1st in Pacific)
PG STEPHEN CURRY
23..8 PPG; 7.7 APG; 48.7 FG%; 44.3 3FG%
SG KLAY THOMPSON
21.7 PPG; 3.2 RPG; 46.3 FG%; 43.9 3FG%
SF HARRISON BARNES
10.1 PPG; 5.5 RPG; 48.2 FG%; 40.5 3FG%
PF DRAYMOND GREEN
11.7 PPG; 8.2 RPG; 44.3 FG%; 33.7 3FG%
C ANDREW BOGUT
6.3 PPG; 8.1 RPG; 1.7 BPG; 56.3 FG%
SF ANDRE IGUODALA
7.8 PPG; 3.3 RPG; 46.6 FG%; 34.9 3FG%
PG SHAUN LIVINGSTON
5.9 PPG; 3.3 APG; 0.6 SPG; 50.0 FG%
PF MARREESE SPEIGHTS
10.4 PPG; 4.3 RPG; 0.4 BPG; 49.2 FG%
Effective field goal percentage (which gives added weight to three-pointers) for Stephen Curry, 13th-highest ever for a player 6'3" or shorter. The top mark belongs to his coach, Steve Kerr.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED